Supplement Facts & Myths: Is Fish Oil REALLY Heart Healthy? [New Studies]

By Shelby Talcott | 12 April 2019 1277 views
are fish oil pills good for you

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Ah, fish oil – a pretty popular supplement that many (including myself) have taken. But, is it healthy? Does it make a difference to our bodies and our health?

The first thing to note is that there are two different kinds of fish oil – the kind found in seafood and the kind found in supplements.

Fish oil itself is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks. According to Penn Medicine, the unsaturated fatty acids that omega-3s provide help to lower the level of triglycerides in our blood and slow down plaque build-up in our arteries.

Sounds great! Or is it?

There is clearly ample evidence that fish oil has a lot of benefits, especially regarding heart health.

However, the same cannot be said for fish oil taken in supplement form. To put it simply, there have been mixed reviews on what – if any – effects fish oil supplements offer.

One study found that there were absolutely no heart health benefits due to taking fish oil supplements. These researchers believed that this was because our bodies may absorb nutrients from food better than from a pill.

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So…am I saying that fish oil supplements are baloney?

Not exactly.

Another study – done in the same year as the above research – found a 25% drop in the risk of heart attacks and other heart issues while taking fish oil supplements.

This study was a little different because its patients were considered high-risk and were on statins, which is any group of drugs that help reduce levels of fats in the body. Additionally, the trial used a prescription pill called Vascepa, which contains purified EPA.

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What Is The Truth About Fish Oil Supplements?

What does all of this tell us (besides that fish oil is a confusing topic to broach)?

The second study is pretty interesting because it used a prescription form of fish oil, and it only took patients that were already on other drugs to improve heart health. If we take this into consideration, there is a definite possibility that fish oil supplements are more of a dollar waster than a heart saver.

Here’s what I would suggest:

Continue taking fish oil supplements if they’ve been prescribed by your doctor.

However, if you’re just buying them at your local CVS, they may not be helping you as much as you think. Since over-the-counter supplements don’t need approval from the FDA, there’s really no way to tell how pure the substance you are taking actually is.

Instead of purchasing fish oil, it may be more beneficial to start getting your omega-3 fatty acids from foods. There has been a proven benefit on heart health with fish oil taken through foods, so it’s a safe bet that you’ll be helping your body.

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There are a ton of foods that will get the job done – salmon, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts, and more!

Sounds more delicious than some pill anyway, right?

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Health Supplements: Facts & Myths

While on the topic of the popularity of supplements, I’d like to caution everyone against taking supplements without proper research.

I know, I know.

Life is busy, and taking a handful of pills every morning to get your daily dose of everything is way easier than traditional forms, such as finding foods that provide it, making sure you’re getting enough of everything, etc.

However, let’s take fish oil supplements as an example.

I used to take fish oil supplements all the time because I had heard from family and friends that it was good for you.

Basically, my research was talking to someone who was taking it. They would say, “Oh yeah, it’s great!”

That was all the validation I needed.

It turns out… I probably wasted a ton of money with no benefits to my health! This is all because I didn’t do the proper research myself.

I’m an athlete, and so I realized that I really needed to be more careful with what I put into my body.

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Now, anytime I think about starting a new supplement, I look online at studies and other articles to try to figure out if it’s really going to help me, if it is healthy for me to take, and if it is worth taking.

It sounds a little lame, but the saying “your body is your temple” is really true! A little research can go a long way in terms of your health – it’s definitely worth the time.

If you decide that a supplement is worth taking, the next step is to make sure that it is of a high quality.

Like fish oil supplements, any over-the-counter supplement doesn’t have to go through the FDA, so it’s not as easy to see how pure it is. Make sure you spend time doing research on each brand so that you get the purest form of supplement – which equals safety and the biggest benefit to living a healthy lifestyle.

At the end of the day, let’s think. We all work hard for that dollar, and ideally we’d like to spend money on things that are actually going to help us.

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It’s definitely worth doing research before starting any supplement, and it’s also a good idea to at least consider the possibility of putting in the extra time and simply ensuring that you are getting a lot of your necessary nutrients from food.

If you don’t believe me, believe fish oil! Easier is not always better. And sure, it may be more time consuming. But I promise you – your body is worth it.

are fish oil pills good for you

Top Tips For Finding Supplements That Are Actually Good For Your Health

It’s clear that the quality, purity, and formulation of supplements – fish oil included – are really important.

As a quick guideline, I always check for these three standards when I’m looking into a new supplement:

1) Made in the U.S.A.

Products made outside of the U.S.A. are subject to different standards and regulations. Choosing “Made in the U.S.A.” supplements helps make sure they meet high quality standards.

2) Made with the best ingredients.

Obviously, the supplement won’t do much good if it isn’t made from good ingredients!

High-quality ingredients mean the supplement is more likely to provide actual benefits… like the fish oil that was actually effective in the study above.

3) Approved by doctors.

While the FDA doesn’t regulate health supplements, doctors can still review them.

If a supplement has been approved by doctors, there’s a better chance that it’s high quality and beneficial to your health.

I apply these guidelines to any type of supplement I buy.

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